Long slog ahead for parliamentary probe into public broadcaster
There is much to be done before the ad hoc parliamentary committee inquiring into the SABC presents its report to Parliament on February 28.
The National Assembly set up the committee last month to conduct an inquiry into the fitness of the three remaining SABC board members to hold office.
This was after board members objected, citing fear of prejudice, to the communications portfolio committee conducting the inquiry.
The 11-member committee began its inquiry last month even though two of the board members resigned after the committee was established.
Committee chairman Vincent Smith said the inquiry had to go on because board chairman Mbulaheni Maguvhe remained.
From November 15 to December 15 the committee heard testimony from witnesses including Maguvhe‚ former board members‚ Communications Minister Faith Muthambi and the "SABC 8" ( eight senior producers and journalists who were suspended, seven of whom were reinstated after a public outcry).
Smith had expected the SABC management to present evidence on Wednesday afternoon‚ but SABC acting CEO James Aguma asked to present a written response to the board.
Smith ruled that SABC management would be given a chance to respond to a draft report to be prepared by the ad hoc committee and presented to affected parties in the middle of January.
He indicated on Thursday that there had been requests for former SABC chairwoman Ellen Tshabalala and chairman Ben Ngubane be interviewed.
Smith said the committee contacted Ngubane‚ who said he would be available on January 10‚ when the committee reconvenes. It also hoped to interview Tshabalala on January 10.
The committee would start drafting its report and slot in inputs from Tshabalala and Ngubane, he said.
In the week starting January 9‚ committee members will look at its initial base document and strengthen it in the manner the committee would like to craft it, said Smith.
"Round about 15 January‚ we will send that crafted or strengthened document to all affected stakeholders and afford those stakeholders two weeks to make comments on our base document and to return those comments to us by the end of January.
"Immediately (after) we’ve received them or the deadline for responses has come and gone‚ we will reconvene and start crafting a final document and which we will hopefully adopt as a committee and present to parliament within the timeframes Parliament has asked us to do our job‚" Smith said.
The DA said that in the past few days the committee heard testimony about a complete collapse of good governance at the public broadcaster.
"The DA will now plough through the 577 documents provided by the SABC to the ad hoc committee with a view to getting to the bottom of what has happened at the SABC‚ to devise concrete steps about what needs to happen to fix the SABC‚ and to hold those responsible accountable‚" said Phumzile van Damme‚ DA national spokeswoman who is a member of the committee.